A project to build nearly 2,000 housing units for mill labourers has stalled because of a standoff, between the government and mill owner. This poses another challenge to the beleaguered working class, which has lost its livelihood with the decline of the city’s once thriving textile industry.
The Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority was to build these flats on New Hind Textiles Mills’ land in Mazgaon, but the revenue department now says the construction cannot start until it gets Rs 28 crore from the mill owner, the state-run National Textile Corporation (NTC).
“As per the rules, the revenue department should get some money because the land belongs to the state,” said Neela Satyanarayan, principal secretary.
But the state-run firm finds this demand unpalatable, said a source there who declined to be named.
According to the law, mill owners must hand over one third of vacant land to the civic body for public use and another third to the state housing authority for homes for mill workers. New Hind’s land is part of the one-third component that NTC has set aside for workers’ housing.
This formula, based on a 2006 Supreme Court ruling, was already a huge setback for workers, because before that, the “one-third” applied to the whole plot and not just the vacant portion.
The new formula left just six percent of 600 acres of mill land civic use and workers’ housing.
The urban development department has thrown its weight behind the revenue department. It will not hand over the Rs. 100 crores due to the textile firm for giving up land for a social cause, until the firm sorts out the issue with the revenue department, said Ramandand Tiwari, additional chief secretary.
“We wonder why the revenue department never used this clause to stall private mill development,” said Neera Adarkar, architect and activist.